Who doesn't love sweets?
There's a huge market for chocolate, toffees and a thousand other lovely tempting sweets.
But before we get on to the question of sweets in earnest
Let me introduce you to Harvard University...
The No 1 university in the world. Famous..
Harvard Business School became famous for it's use of case studies - rather than conventional lectures. Much more demanding on students, much more successful at learning & communication skills growth.
Harvard Business School went back to basics, revisited the Greeks (Plato in particular).
The graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston Massachusetts USA showed the world it was possible for an established university to innovate. The results have been dramatic. Harvard is top drawer. Brand leader - others copy Harvard Business School.
Ballymaloe Case Study
We're copying Harvard. This is a case study for you to discuss.
"The Ballymaloe Suicide Story?"
Ballymaloe is top drawer. Others go there to study its ways - others start with Ballymaloe and build their own food brand on the back of Ballymaloe.
In case you're not from Ireland - here are a few points to put Ballymaloe the Brand in context:
- Ballymaloe is a restaurant, cookery school, hotel, music venue, farm, shop, café, garden, food producer, publishing house ... and now sweet-seller.
- In 1964 the Allens, owners of Ballymaloe estate, converted an old dining room into a restaurant
- Ballymaloe Restaurant had one Michelin star 1975-1980 when Myrtle Allen was head chef.
- The Ballymaloe home building dates from 1820
- the Ballymaloe hotel was first a guesthouse with a few rooms - today it has lots of rooms
- the Ballymaloe Cookery School began small in 1960s when Myrtle Allen & her sous-chef, Darina O'Connell, started giving courses in cooking
- there is an organic farm
- Ballymaloe Country Relish is the food range
- In 1986 Myrtle Allen helped set up Euro-toques International & founded Euro-toques Ireland- professional cooks promoting & protecting Europe's culinary heritage, defending the quality of local & carefully cooked food
- Ballymaloe is in the vanguard of the "Slow Food " movement worldwide
- Ballymaloe music venue is The Grain Store - converted in 2010
Ballymaloe is huge
- not just as a place but as a movement. Myrtle Allen is the woman who put Irish food on the map. Before her there were good ingredients but no culure, energy & vision. She built Brand Ballymaloe.
She didn't do it alone - Darina Allen was at the core.
In terms of Irish cooking - Ballymaloe is Mrs Beeton, Elizabeth David, Julia Child & ElBulli rolled into one.
In a nutshell, it's almost impossible to think of Irish food today without paying tribute to Ballymaloe.
Irish foodies are proud of Ballymaloe and everything it stands for.
What does Ballymaloe stand for:
Ballymaloe is top rate, top of the range, exclusive, country, good quality, solid, earthy, grand not ostentatious, within reach, assured quality service, a bit of work for you to do, you have to immerse yourself in it, make an effort to engage with, well worth it, on the side of the angels.
(a summary of research I've carried out in Ireland).
Clearly - even though Ballymaloe today has no Michelin Star - unlike
- Lady Helen at the Mount Juliet Hotel
- Patrick Guilbaud's
- Thornton's at the Fitzwilliam Hotel
- Chapter One
- Bon Appétit
- Cliff House Hotel
Ballymaloe stands out as the only very strong Irish food brand - with the possible exception of Avoca.
Ballymaloe is not stuck in the past - is not content to bask in its glory days.
- It's going into USA with Twitter
- it is selling sweets
Questions for consideration:
- Why is Ballymaloe going into the US market?
- What are the risks for Ballymaloe of branching out into a new marketplace?
- What path is Ballymaloe following?
- What could Ballymaloe gain from a successful venture into a global arena?
- What do sweets stand for in the minds & hearts of people today?
- How good a fit are sweets with the Slow Food movement?
- How wholesome is sugar?
- To what extent did Ballymaloe consider all possible ramifications of associating its Brand with the pro-sweets movement?
- What evidence is there that Ballymaloe has followed a sensible process in its decision-making?
- How coherent is the Ballymaloe brand today?
- How well integrated are the constituent elements: the hotel, restaurant, school, retail etc ?
- How can a family business like Ballymaloe ensure it doesn't disintegrate into a collection of independent businesses?
The Harvard Business School method
is based on students studying a case like Ballymaloe. It involves asking the difficult questions in a non-adulatory way - putting the brand in the dock so to speak.
OK - I confess...
the spark that broke the camel's back & got me to go public on the Ballymaloe case was the bag of sweets I spotted in my local supermarket.
I went bananas - bluntly I said to myself :
"she's crazy - "that's brand suicide - "they must have lost the plot."
I have no insider information but I love Ballymaloe - meaning I love what Ballymaloe stands for. I've never thought Ballymaloe told its story half as impressively as it could. But I've always felt in awe of the genius behind the brand - the women who've built it.
After the shock of seeing Ballymaloe trying to persuade us sweets are good for us - I'm not at all sure Ballymaloe is in safe hands for the long-term.
Brand integrity: I hope I'm wrong
I hope the sweets will become controversial - will lead to conflict - will result in Ballymaloe returning to its roots.
A strong brand can destroy itself through the well-meaning action of misguided people.
The Ballymaloe case study is presented here for your consideration. You can apply the same approach to your own brand.
There is much to be learned from the Ballymaloe story.
We'll watch this unfold with massive interest.
Let's hear your analysis - after you've made time to do your own research.